We are excited for all of the movies coming in 2019! The wonderful world of diversity for people of color and of course, "RainbowMe Approved" content, is growing and we absolutely love it. When considering whether a movie or any other entertainment content is "RainbowMe Approved", we strive to make sure that not only is the main character of the story a person of color, but that character is portrayed positively. If the story is specifically about a culture, we want to make sure it accurately portrays the people they are designed to represent. With that being said, we were excited about the remake of Disney's Aladdin, and a cast that includes funny man and number one Instagram celebrity Will Smith as the genie!
However, there has been some controversy surrounding the cast members of the movie and the movie as a whole. The cast includes Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine.
We share here some of the issues that are bought about by Aladdin, said best by Amina Khan of Brown Girl Magazine: "Whitewashing in Hollywood has been an issue for as long as it has existed, and Disney’s newest live-action adaption of “Aladdin” is no exception. Over the years, details of the story have been changed that leave much to be desired in terms of historical accuracy. First and foremost, “Aladdin” was narrated by a Syrian and was not a part of the original “1001 Tales of Arabian Nights” (but added later on by a French translator). The opening sentence references China as Aladdin, a poor, young, Chinese man, lived in a remote city with his mother. One day, an evil Maghreb sorcerer approaches him, claims to be his father’s brother, and tricks him into retrieving the oil lamp from the magic cave. You know how the story goes from there." "Inaccurate media representations of a culture silence the races and religious groups that yearn to be represented in an authentic light. Sure, Naomi Scott may (kind of) look like Princess Jasmine (original name Badroulbadour meaning “full moon” in Arabic), but Scott is of British and South-Asian descent, not Middle-Eastern. This notion shows the harshness of comparing Indians to Middle-Easterners as parallel. It’s an ‘American’ analysis of executing the idea that two completely different cultures must be the same thing because of similar physical attributes." You can read this full article here. This controversy was around at the airing of the original animated film as well. Again, we are excited about the increase of movies featuring people of color, but we also want to make sure they are positive, accurate portrayals, especially if they are to represent a certain culture. We are not the experts in every culture, or even what may be offensive to others. However, if it is offensive to those who identify with the culture being portrayed, then we give deference to that. Unfortunately, even with our love for Will Smith, this film is not RainbowMe Approved. :-(